By Shana Fischer
By his own estimate, Binnings Bent has been on thousands of dates. Thousands of horrible dates. He sought out partners on every dating website he could find. And, while those sites assured him they could find the perfect match for him, Bent says the only thing they could guarantee was that at some point in the evening, he would realize that yet again, the match was just not made in Heaven. Driving home one day after another horrible date, Bent confessed to his mother that he was ready to give up on love. She convinced him to be patient just a little bit longer.
That night he logged on to a dating site he hadn’t used in years. He plugged in very specific details about his ideal woman. A few moments later he had three matches. He sent them all quick notes and waited, convinced it was another futile effort and that he should get ready to live the life of a monk in Los Angeles.
As he waited for a response from the women, he realized there was a fatal flaw in dating websites, something that turned Cupid’s arrow slightly so it missed its target. Most dating sites ask you to post a photo and a profile and then you fill out a questionnaire. Questions designed to get to the heart of your personality, your likes and dislikes. Bent says that part of the sites work fairly well. “You find someone who shares your interests whether it’s football or movies. You find out their religion and you found out if they want kids. It’s more of a match of who you get along with, not who you are attracted to. The human brain doesn’t allow us to put into words what makes us attracted to someone. That’s a subconscious thing. And that’s the issue. I get along with all of the guys on my baseball team. We have the same interests, but I am not attracted to them.”
So, Bent set out to create a dating website that not only matches you with someone who shares your interests and personality traits but to the person you are most attracted to. He says he worked with brain doctors and psychologists to help develop an algorithm of sorts that keys in on exactly what you find physically attractive, and that is buried in the subconscious of your brain.
Helen Meets Troy is a different kind of dating website. The name is a play on the famous mythical tale of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Troy. (The Trojan War was fought because of her, the winner would win her hand in marriage) Helen Meets Troy offers features that other sites do not. You start off creating a profile and answer a questionnaire that is more meaningful and specific. Based on your preferences, the website suggests potential matches grouped into three categories. Green for people you match from 100 percent to 85, yellow is 84 percent to 75, and red is 74 percent to 0. Only your green matches are sent to the outside email you provide, the rest stay neatly organized in your profile. You then look at the photos of your matches and give them a thumbs up or down based on how attracted you are to them. This is where the magic happens says Bent. “The algorithm is able to figure out what you find attractive, what you haven’t be able to verbalize, and it makes the best matches based on that.” The site then puts your matches in order from who you find most attractive to least.
Bent also wanted to make dating websites safer and to make sure you don’t waste an entire afternoon or evening stuck on a date that is grounded like a plane in a Chicago snowstorm. Once your matches are established you can have a one-time free five minute video chat. It’s a safe and easy way, Bent says, to see if you really will hit off. After the video chat, you can continue to talk to your match via the website’s voice chat before choosing to share phone numbers. Bent says this process really allows you to get down to the nitty-gritty and make more meaningful matches. Helen Meets Troy costs roughly $20 a month right now, and Bent says that’s a small price to pay knowing you won’t waste time or money on the wrong match.
As for Bent, one of the women from that other site eventually wrote back to him. They decided to go on a coffee date. Neither expected much. They wound up talking until the coffee shop closed…and haven’t stopped talking. They’re now happily married.